The cytoskeletal inhibitors latrunculin A and blebbistatin exert antitumorigenic properties in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells by interfering with intracellular HuR trafficking

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Abstract

The impact of the RNA-binding protein HuR for the post-transcriptional deregulation of tumor-relevant genes is well established. Despite of elevations in HuR expression levels, an increase in cytoplasmic HuR abundance in many cases correlates with a high grade of malignancy. Here, we demonstrated that administration of the actin-depolymerizing macrolide latrunculin A, or blebbistatin, an inhibitor of myosin II ATPase activity, caused a dose- and time-dependent reduction in the high cytoplasmic HuR content of HepG2 and Huh7 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. Subcellular fractionation revealed that in addition, both inhibitors strongly attenuated cytoskeletal and membrane-bound HuR abundance and conversely increased the HuR amount in nuclear cell fractions. Concomitant with changes in intracellular HuR localization, both cytoskeletal inhibitors markedly decreased the half-lives of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), cyclin A and cyclin D1 encoding mRNAs resulting in a significant reduction in their expression levels in HepG2 cells. Importantly, a similar reduction in the expression of these HuR targets was achieved by a RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown of either HuR or nonmuscle myoin IIA. Using polysomal fractionation, we further demonstrate that the decrease in cytoplasmic HuR by latrunculin A or blebbistatin is accompanied by a marked change in the allocation of HuR and its mRNA cargo from polysomes to ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles. Functionally, the basal migration and prostaglandin E2 synthesis are similarly impaired in inhibitor-treated and stable HuR-knockdown HepG2 cells. Our data demonstrate that interfering with the actomyosin-dependent HuR trafficking may comprise a valid therapeutic option for antagonizing pathologic posttranscriptional gene expression by HuR and furthermore emphasize the potential benefit of HuR inhibitory strategies for treatment of HCC.

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